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The Other Store - 4130 Bethel Church Road

Posted by The LunchMen Friday, November 13, 2009

Ah, Rabbit. Just when you think the guy is going to head down to the Farmer’s Market to consume an actual head of lettuce, he totally surprises you. Last week, in a unique marriage of bold and slick, Rabbit petitioned for The Other Store.

Needless to say, the call was met with bewilderment, mistrust and great skepticism by Other Store rookies Tank and Tex. Rabbit, as shrewd and manipulative as his soon-to-be wife, responded indignantly, saying “we don’t have to go there if y’all don’t want to.” I supported Rabbit, but certainly didn’t help the cause with my rundown of The Other Store: far away, slow service, and Apartheid Country Club soccer moms.

After failed attempts to explain The Other Store and several miles of pre-apologies to mitigate any disappointment (and, admittedly, some waffling by me), we arrived at the place to a chorus of boos from Tank and Tex. Little did they know, the Lunchmen were about to be treated to a delicious and sinful dining experience.

The Other Store is located in the back of an old gas station in Forest Acres on the corner of Atascadero and Bethel Church Road – at least a 10 minute drive from the Plaza of Greatness. Customers, met by a charmingly shoddy exterior, walk into a working convenience store complete with candy, beer, tobacco and lottery tickets. In the back, the convenience store opens up into a living room sized area, half of which is dedicated to food preparation and half dedicated to dining.

While ordering from the counter, you can watch a handful of employees laboring busily over sandwiches and salads. Without consulting the menu, I opted for The Other Store’s piece de resistance, the Greek Turkey. Rabbit, of course, had the Tedder salad; Tex the Jamaican Jerk Chicken Sandwich; and Tank the Giant club with an extra side of pasta salad.

We’ll return to the food in a moment. The Other Store offers three seating options: The porch, the main room, and a small alcove jutting out into the convenience store. We chose the alcove because it was chilly outside. Whatever you do, avoid the main room at all costs. The hustle and bustle of ordering, drink refills and food preparation lends itself to considerable stress during the 15-20 minutes you will have to wait.

9 times out of 10, you will run into a friend or acquaintance at The Other Store. We sat next to Tank and Rabbit’s favorite banker, Bambi, and her lunch companions. Bambi seemed delighted and intrigued but what transpired next. The Lottery. I hate the Lottery. It preys on poor people. It wastes my time at the gas station. But, for twenty glorious minutes we had more fun playing dollar scratch offs than the guys in The Hangover. Replete with drama, triumph and ultimately loss – four grown men playing the scratch off can have a helluva time.

Penniless and basking in the bittersweet afterglow of gambling, we were delighted when our lunch arrived. The Greek Turkey deserves its wide praise. Thinly sliced turkey, lettuce, black olives, feta cheese and an unbelievably tasty greek dressing are neatly apportioned between two slices of pita bread. The greek dressing is so delicious, one of Bambi’s companions appeared to be drinking it. Even paired with a lame looking bag of Lay’s potato chips, The Greek Turkey is an absolute can’t miss.

Rabbit’s Tedder salad, another famous Other Store staple, was covered with an invitingly seasoned chicken that was good all by itself. Tex’s Jamaican sandwich included the same or similar chicken with a little extra kick on a surprisingly good sub roll. Tank’s club was so large that we had to help him get up from the table after he downed it, the aforementioned pasta, and a cookie for good measure.

All in all, the Lunchmen were very satisfied with the trek to Forest Acres. Despite the shortcomings – décor, distance, wait time – the food is so simply delicious that it demands the Lunchmen’s respect. In short, while it wouldn’t work every week, The Other Store is a fantastic quarterly alternative to downtown.

Concluding today’s post, the Publican has an ax to grind. The Lunchmen receive a little criticism from time to time. Hard to believe, I know. Chief among those criticisms is that the Lunchmen are too forgiving of flaws, given to hyperbole, and prone to heap praise upon undeserving establishments.

In a previous post, Tank soft pedaled this point a little – but the time has come for the truth about lunch to ring out: a delicious sandwich is a delicious sandwich.

Anticlimactic? Maybe. True? Absolutely. Whether served in a downtown outparcel, a shiny, trendy cafe, or a smoky old hole in the wall, the Lunchmen value good service, fresh ingredients and delicious meals. Moreover, it doesn’t much matter whether it was prepared by a classically trained chef, a slightly smug hipster or a sweaty old guy in a wife beater. So for those of you waiting for bad reviews – keep waiting – because we try our damndest not to eat at nasty restaurants and so far we’ve been pretty good at it.

- The Publican

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1 Responses to The Other Store - 4130 Bethel Church Road

  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. I actually worked at The Other Store for about a month, so I have first hand knowledge of what you're saying. I have to say, you're spot on! The food is delicious, the wait is horrendous, but the atmosphere is fun and relaxed- to the diners, lol. It's a great place to eat but don't expect fast.

     

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Rabbit, Tank, and The Publican are three dudes just trying to get through the work week here in Columbia. Rabbit is a Columbia native, Tank is from Charleston, and The Publican hails from Greenville. Rabbit's favorite lunch spot is the No Name Deli on Elmwood, where you may find him putting down a grilled chicken salad and a side of vinegar pasta. The Publican usually wants to find food to cure his all-too-common hangovers. Tank claims no favorite lunch spot - he lives for the thrill of the hunt.

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